Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk: Tyler Docking
Through the course of Kansas’ history, numerous student-athletes have been fortunate enough to don the Jayhawk colors of Crimson and Blue. Many of those athletes have gone on to do great things and cement their names in the KU history books. One of those athletes is Kansas alumni golfer Tyler Docking.
Docking began golfing back in third grade, when his parents bought a house right on the golf course. That is where Docking claims, “It all began.”
“My dad is a very avid golfer; he honestly is the one who got me into it,” Docking said. “I started playing shortly before I moved to North Carolina. Once my parents got the house on the course that is when it took off. My dad and I would go out after work and chip, putt or even play a few holes.”
While Docking spent the elementary stages of his golf career playing in North Carolina, it was in Kansas City where he became hooked on the sport and began playing competitively. Docking spent his high school days not only competing for his school team, but competing in tournaments in all different leagues.
“I competed everywhere I could,” Docking said. “I played in KCGA (Kansas City Golf Association) tournaments, AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) tournaments, and any other leagues that I could find, I played in.”
During high school, the accolades began to rack up as Docking was a four-year letterwinner in high school, competitor in the 2001 U.S. Junior Amateur and went on to place second in the 2002 Kansas Junior Amateur. These kinds of accomplishments drew the attention of a few different golf coaches, but none more important than former Kansas head golf coach Ross Randall.
After watching Docking for quite some time, Randall offered Docking a scholarship before the start of his high school senior season. Docking accepted the offer from Randall for two big reasons.
“One was the engineering program that Kansas had,” Docking said. “They are one of the best ones in the state and are well known for certain aspects of engineering. The other was that Randall offered me a scholarship before the high school season started. The reason this was a big factor was because I wanted to get all of that stuff out of the way in the fall so I could focus on golf in the spring. This gave me a chance to be free and loose and not have that burden on me.”
Docking arrived on the University of Kansas scene during the 2002-03 golf season and decided to redshirt so he could prepare and adjust his game to the collegiate level. During his redshirt-freshman season, 2003-04, Docking made an instant impact as he led the team in scoring during two tournaments while also carding the lowest round of any Jayhawk on the year with a 66.
The following year, Docking and the team traveled to Hawaii for the Big Island Invitational where he went on to shoot one of the lowest rounds in Kansas golf history. Docking shot a Kansas low that season of 64 (-8).
“I shot one of the lowest rounds in KU history and the next day it was beat,” Docking said with a laugh.
The next day Docking’s teammate, Andrew Price went, out and shot a 63 (-9) to tie for the all-time Kansas low round. While Docking’s round may have been beat by his teammate they were both able to contribute to the lowest tournament score in Kansas’ school history as the team went on to shoot an 833 (-31) and win the Big Island Invitational.
“They are accomplishments that I’m very proud of,” Docking said. “To be able to be that close to the top of the leaderboards with all the great players that KU has had, even since I’ve been there, they are incredible accomplishments and I am very proud of them. Honestly any one of those guys could have done that well or shot those scores. I’m very grateful and very thankful that I was able to pull it off.”
It wasn’t just the accolades, scores and tournaments that Docking remembers from his time at Kansas, it’s the good times and strong bonds that he built with his teammates and coaches.
“I was really good friends with a lot of the guys there,” Docking said. “Ross Randall is great, he did a lot for me. The amount of confidence he has in you is earned and once you get that, it doesn’t really go away. As far as the players go, there were about four or five of us who all lived in the same apartment complex. Barrett Martens, who is the same age as me, was my closest friend and my roommate during my last season. We continued to drive each other to be better players, to keep improving and to keep working hard.”
One moment during Docking’s tenure that really stands out was during his junior season. Docking had played in all of the fall tournaments and was playing as he said “horribly.” Once the final fall tournament ended Randall went to Docking and said, “Just put your clubs away. It’s going to do you no good to go out there and try to fix this right now. You need to get your mind off of it and try and come back and earn your spot back.”
“He was very supportive of me,” Docking said. “It was a big reason I was able to get through it and have a successful senior season at Kansas.”
Docking, during his time at Kansas, led the team in scoring in 11 different tournaments while putting out record numbers. His Jayhawk career, like everyone’s before him, eventually came to an end and he decided it was time to move on with his life.
Docking graduated in 2007 with a degree in engineering and went on to land a job with his current employer, Burns and McDonnell in Kansas City. Two years after graduation, Docking married to his wife, Maggie. Six weeks ago, the could welcomed its first child, a daughter named Elyse.
While Docking decided it was better for him to enter the work force instead of pursuing a career in golf, he made it clear that he wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“It’s one of those things that do I wish I could have gone and played golf professionally,” Docking asked. “I mean, yes, it is something that I would have liked to do, but do I regret it at all? Absolutely not, I love where I am at and what I am currently doing. I’m having a good time and I couldn’t imagine being in a different position than where I’m at right now.”
As Docking continues to move forward with his life he makes sure to still go out play golf at least once a week. But playing isn’t his only association with golf anymore; he has taken on the role of mentor to a few young golfers.
“I have mentored a few younger people, usually just a family friend looking to get into college golf,” Docking said. “I do what I can to help them try and figure out what to do next, along with helping them contact coaches and getting their names out there.”
Docking’s time may have passed here at Kansas but his contributions and accolades will last here an eternity. He is someone that the Crimson and Blue nation is proud to call a Jayhawk.
Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk.